Ritual Folk Dance of Kerala-Theyyams, part of Kerala's colourful Culture and Tribal Arts

Theyyams- Kerala's cultural and traditional art forms. A must see event if you came as a tourist to the God's own country-Kerala. Apart from a form of art, Theyyams are part of rituals done by the hindu community mainly in the Northern Kerala. A type of  folk-dance in which the dancer is given an unnatural appearance with colours and face-masks along with decoratives made of palm leaves and metal ornaments. Infact it is a Dance form of the Hindu Gods. Another peculiarity of these Hindu ritual art form is the dancers are usually from particular cast and families who has taken Theyyams as a traditional Art, ie enacting the spiritual characters before the others a must for them which is kept done from the time of  their ancestors itself..

In certain areas of Kerala these Dance forms are  also known as Thirayattam instead of  Theyyam. The ritual dance theyyattam is derived from words theyyam and Aatam.. Theyyam means God and Attam means Dance, which inturn give the meaning of God's Dance..The ritualistic event is done as a part of worshiping the Spirits or Hindu Gods which is usually done near to the place where God is believed to be present, like Kaavu(densely preserved forest covering a relatively small area).
 A Theyya Kolam or Theyyam.. Photographed from  Thrishur district of Kerala. This ritual was conducted as a part of a small temple festival or Pooram.
The peculiar makeup is all done using native colours.Their are a numerous forms theyyams and no two among them can have the same style of makeup.The big crown called 'Mudi'  can have heights upto 60 feets depending on the type and nature of God they represents. Its made of wooden planks, stripes of bamboo, and arecanut tree wood. Palm leaves are usually stitched on to decorate along with red flowers and vibrantly colored clothes according to the local culture. Some forms of Theyyam wear kireedam or crown very similar to the one used in Kadhakali- another art form of Kerala. Some of these Theyyams like vishnumoorthy and pottan often dance and walks over fire and they usually has a waist wear made of coconut leaves. The nature of dance and the makeups depends on the spirits they represents. Their are different folk music(tottams) praising the particular God accompanying each theyyatams.
A Theyyam representing Bhagavathy a Hndu Godess.It's natural to think this a Woman artist behind, but is a man. Skillful natural makeup is done behind the scenes, by hands well versed in the tribal art forms.

Amongst the God's their are man and Woman characters as by the Hindu holy books. So the ritual art forms are done in the musculine(Tandava) and feminine(Lasya) ways depending on the spiritual character behind. Its belived that the God is standing infront in the form of Theyyam and as the ritual progresses the dancers gets posessed by the spirits. They starts giving blessings to the worshipers.At the end the dancer proclaims the presence of the God in the place and pour blessings to the people around.

Theyyams are performed in the northern Part of kerala from the ancient times and started evolving from time to time as new communities like Brahmins migrated into the place. As time passed New forms of  the Ritual Dance-Theyyams evolved combining with the ones existed in the native. Theyyams are performed by tribal communities like Velan, Malayan and Vannan from traditional times. Its said that the native art of Kaliyattam is transformed into Theyyam as part of the Cultural integration with Brahmins and the Natives of Kolothunadu ,the northern part of Kerala.These religious ritual dance are conducted usually from the month of December to April along the temples and Kaavu of the Northern Kerala.Its counted to be around 400 types of Theyyams in here.The particular Dance form can be part of festivals of the temples and usually lasts for about  days.

The photographs given here are not the fine ones and just posted for the sake of telling about the famous art forms of kerala..Be in Kerala by the time of Theyyams if you a Tourist and wanna feel the spirit and culture of this place.. Surely you can meet the Gods here, in the Very God's Own Country..
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